Ratio and Foster Seeley Discriminator or FM Detector
- details of FM demodulators - Foster Seeley discriminator or demodulator and the Ratio demodulator or detector.
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The Foster Seeley discriminator or demodulator and the Ratio detector are two forms of FM demodulator that have been widely used. They are able to provide good levels of performance.
In recent years, the Foster Seeley discriminator and the Ratio detector have been less widely used. The main reason for this is that they require the use of wound inductors and these are expensive to manufacture. Other types of FM demodulator have overtaken them, mainly as a result of the fact that the other FM demodulator configurations lend themselves more easily to being incorporated into integrated circuits.
Ratio FM detectors
When circuits employing discrete components were more widely sued, the Ratio and Foster-Seeley detectors were widely used. Of these the ratio detector was the most popular as it offers a better level of amplitude modulation rejection of amplitude modulation. This enables it to provide a greater level of noise immunity as most noise is amplitude noise, and it also enables the circuit to operate satisfactorily with lower levels of limiting in the preceding IF stages of the receiver.
The operation of the ratio detector centres around a frequency sensitive phase shift network with a transformer and the diodes that are effectively in series with one another. When a steady carrier is applied to the circuit the diodes act to produce a steady voltage across the resistors R1 and R2, and the capacitor C3 charges up as a result.
The transformer enables the circuit to detect changes in the frequency of the incoming signal. It has three windings. The primary and secondary act in the normal way to produce a signal at the output. The third winding is un-tuned and the coupling between the primary and the third winding is very tight, and this means that the phasing between signals in these two windings is the same.
The primary and secondary windings are tuned and lightly coupled. This means that there is a phase difference of 90 degrees between the signals in these windings at the centre frequency. If the signal moves away from the centre frequency the phase difference will change. In turn the phase difference between the secondary and third windings also varies. When this occurs the voltage will subtract from one side of the secondary and add to the other causing an imbalance across the resistors R1 and R2. As a result this causes a current to flow in the third winding and the modulation to appear at the output.
The capacitors C1 and C2 filter any remaining RF signal which may appear across the resistors. The capacitor C4 and R3 also act as filters ensuring no RF reaches the audio section of the receiver.
The ratio detector
Foster-Seeley FM discriminator or FM detector
The Foster Seeley detector or as it is sometimes described the Foster Seeley discriminator has many similarities to the ratio detector. The circuit topology looks very similar, having a transformer and a pair of diodes, but there is no third winding and instead a choke is used.
The Foster-Seeley discriminator / detector
Like the ratio detector, the Foster-Seeley circuit operates using a phase difference between signals. To obtain the different phased signals a connection is made to the primary side of the transformer using a capacitor, and this is taken to the centre tap of the transformer. This gives a signal that is 90 degrees out of phase.
When an un-modulated carrier is applied at the centre frequency, both diodes conduct, to produce equal and opposite voltages across their respective load resistors. These voltages cancel each one another out at the output so that no voltage is present. As the carrier moves off to one side of the centre frequency the balance condition is destroyed, and one diode conducts more than the other. This results in the voltage across one of the resistors being larger than the other, and a resulting voltage at the output corresponding to the modulation on the incoming signal.
The choke is required in the circuit to ensure that no RF signals appear at the output. The capacitors C1 and C2 provide a similar filtering function.
Both the ratio and Foster-Seeley detectors are expensive to manufacture. Wound components like coils are not easy to produce to the required specification and therefore they are comparatively costly. Accordingly these circuits are rarely used in modern equipment.
By Ian Poole
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